Friday, April 17, 2009

Art 101

Saying "NO" and "I just can't go!"

What do you see when you look at this? A train with a cute little engineer, probably. You wanna know what I see? Two things: #1 I see a GREAT composition and #2 I see random, thoughtless PURPLE lines that totally negate that great composition. One of the most frustrating parts of being an art teacher is to watch a student's work go from great to way too busy in 1 second flat. For whatever reason--the student gets bored...they want to use their favorite color even though they don't need to...they think they need to fill in every open space...who knows why? The bottom line is they do not know when to stop. Part of being a good artist is knowing when to stop. And so it is with life.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

What do you see here? A cute landscape scene, perhaps. Wanna know what I see? A sun with a face in the corner. No matter how great the rest of the piece is--and it is good--I can't get past the sun. Three things I try to teach my younger students are #1 We do not color clouds blue--clouds are white, #2 we do not draw eyes at the top of a face--eyes are in the middle(it's true), and #3 we DO NOT draw Mr. Sunshine in the top left hand corner of our paper! The "corner sun" is easy, it is something most of us learn to do at an early age, and drawing it is usually a habit. In order to move beyond mediocrity, the kiddo has to step outside of his comfort zone. And so it is with life.


Many times when I am getting a project ready to display, I will crop it. Sometimes I do this because I think it makes the piece more interesting, sometimes I am cutting off an unnecessary element, and other times I am just trying to get it to fit into the space where I am going to put it. Whatever the reason--I have a plan. If the student sees me doing this they are usually very upset! They do not understand why I am doing that to their work. In the artists' eyes I am ruining it, but I know that the crop makes it a stronger piece. And so it is with life in His hands.

(I just included this one cause it makes me think of Summer and I like Summer.)

Final thoughts:
  • Mistakes into masterpieces: Most of the time, the best works of art are derived from a mistake. A good artist can take a mistake and repurpose it to create a masterpiece.
  • Variety and Unity: The two are almost complete opposites yet a great work of art must contain both.

I'll let you figure out those spiritual implications for homework.


  1. Okay. This is the non-art teacher coming out in me, but I love BOTH pics. Yeh, I know. Shocking, I'm sure. The thing I love about the purple stuff is that it makes it take on a more animated feel to me-simply my opinion, untrained at that. I love the mustache on the conductor. Makes it look like he really likes his conducting job, and takes it seriously. The glasses on the sun-so child-like. My son especially loves to add eyebrows to anything that has a face. I love it. Enjoy the craziness and spontaneity of those folks Keelie. Enjoy a great weekend, and the blessing of your wonderful church family. In Christ-Kathy

  2. I love the analogy you give of "His hands"! That is so true!

  3. Kathy--and all others--I should clarify that these actually are the cream of the crop...I was just being really picky in order to make my point. These were a select few out of about 100 that will be entered in a transportation- themed contest. I actually love both of them, also--they just happen to break some of my rules.What can I say? My expectations are high:0)

  4. Hi Keelie,
    I came back and re-read...and I couldn't agree more, being in His hands, much like cropping. We have to trust us to His hands. I knew you liked the art work too! I hope my comment didn't come across with a wrong message. I'm glad you posted the work, the critique, and opened it up to us. Blessings friend.

  5. Very creative with lots of insight. However, I did not know that Mr. Sunshine did not get to go in the top left-hand corner. I knew there was a reason I kept my art to myself. Love!

  6. These pictures and the insight are amazing! I am also, I admit, a "sun in the corner" artist. I so remember the feelings of that brand new sheet of manilla paper! I never really had an art teacher like you. I guess I can use that excuse for now.